Part 4: Sharpening the Moral Focus
Chapter 19: Morality without a Lawgiving God? The Divine Foundation of Goodness
Chapter 20: We Have Moved beyond This God (Haven’t We?): Jesus as the Fulfiller of the Old Testament
The New Atheists claim that they do not need God in order to be moral, or to know right from wrong. In some ways this is correct: as image-bearers of God, they have an innate sense of morality. What atheism cannot do, however, is justify how we came to be moral beings. How do human beings become moral beings, if they emerge out of an amoral universe and are controlled by their DNA? Why are beings with evolved minds and bodies that are controlled by selfish genes moral agents? More strikingly, since evolution is geared towards survival, why would we think that our ethical views are true, rather than an illusion that aids in reproduction and survival? The New Atheists fall into the old fallacy of confusing an “is” with an ethical “ought.” In other words, just because physical beings feel a certain way about certain behaviors does not allow for the logical leap that these behaviors are intrinsically immoral.
Despite the unbalanced and unfair criticisms of the New Atheists — which even their knowledgeable fellow atheists reject — Christianity has been a force for great good in the Western world. Many atheist experts have identified Christianity as the foundation for the moral fabric of the Western world, as well acknowledging that Christianity was the driving force behind the West’s economic and political power. Historically, Christians have also been responsible for vastly improving the lives of millions through social justice, education, healthcare, and other compassion ministries. Fair-minded experts have no trouble acknowledging the truth of these statements. The New Atheists are simply wrong in charging Christianity with poisoning society, and history proves it. That Christianity has been an engine for moral good is not surprising, given the example and teachings of Jesus Christ. The Old Testament was never meant to be read as a completed story, nor was its ethic to be adopted as a timeless ideal. It is in the compassion and goodness of Jesus Christ that the biblical ethic is truly found.